Resume Help: How Do I Get Started?


I know what it’s like to be in a job that you hate. It’s happened to me one too many times. I know there were many times when I had a rough week and resolved to update my resume over the weekend. When you are in that situation – you don’t quite know what is up and what is down. You can’t even begin to know how to get yourself out of this sticky situation.

The other day, I was on a search engine landing page and noticed that Resume Help was trending. It pains me to see that so many people out there are clueless as to how to get their house in order and are suffering in silence.

I think the first step to sorting out an issue is to realize that the answer does not lie within yourself. Ask for help!

You might say that how can  someone that is unemployed help me find a job? That’s a bit laughable you say…Well no- I am not unemployed (more on this later!!!). I am FUNemployed. I strategically chose to live a happy and fun-filled life that’s geared towards travel, gaining spiritual knowledge and evolving to my highest/best self and currently includes no “job”.

You ask what may qualify me to help you… well dear friends, prior to quitting, I worked for 11 months as the Administrative Assistant to the Human Resources Department. I worked heavily with their applicant tracking system, various recruiting/staffing firms and saw the hiring process first hand. I was able to hear the feedback from behind the proverbial curtain to see what works for candidates and what falls flat.

Prior to that, I was an Administrative Assistant for about 7 years who worked on recruiting for the Analyst and Associate positions within my department. I targeted universities in search for our Analyst program. I compiled resume books, worked with the team in whittling down applicants to be invited for interviews. I also worked with recruiting agencies to find candidates for the Associate positions.

I inadvertently learned some things about resumes and these quick tips are what I would like to share here:

First of all, I think it must be said because common sense is not so common-

Master the Basics. Spelling, punctuation and grammar. Ask yourself- do my statements & timelines make sense? Do I contradict myself? Is the formatting consistent throughout?

Font. Pick one that’s easy on the eyes and stick to it. Don’t go crazy with different sizes and copying and pasting and forgetting to check that you have the same format/font throughout. I personally like Garamond. I did a bit of research back in the day that supported it. I recently did a quick search and it is still one of the preferred resume fonts. I stick to 11 pt Font. Remember that Human Resources departments are inundated with tons of resumes. Make it easy for them to read yours. My impulse is to dismiss anything that hurts my eyes or requires that I strain myself.

Email. Please make sure that your email is something with a professional tone. No slang, offensive or residual emails from your high school days. Go on Google and get a quick new email account. I usually do some iteration of first/last name or something simple with your initials will do.

Headings. I like to start with most recent work experience and work my way back. If you are a recent grad- you may want to start with education first and perhaps list some relevant activities and course work that directly pertain to the job you are applying to. If you are a more seasoned worker, you do not need to go into detail.

Temp Work. I have experience that came from working through a temp staffing agency. I include this in my work history but I only summarize it generally. I have included it in the resume example below.

Language. Spell it out. The Human Resource department is not your friend. Use a professional tone in your writing. Do not use any abbreviations that are industry specific or that they would not understand. If you must abbreviate- explain it the first time. Is it simple? Is it concise? Do not repeat yourself.

Action. Make sure that your verbs show that you are competent and exercise a great deal of agency. Use strong verbs to detail your job duties. Try not to bore and keep the language flowing. Verb tense is also important- keep it consistent throughout. I like to use the present tense as it is a given that it all happened in the past. (I noticed below that I did not follow my own rule! haha!)

Baby got skillz. Please make sure to list everything relevant that your little brain holds. What sets you apart? Do you have certifications? Special commendations? Employee of the month? Language skills? HTML experience? Photography? What are your interests? (watch out how you answer this… it may be a double edge sword.)

Audience. What industry are you applying for? Some are very buttoned up and others are more laid back and friendly. Make sure you understand who will be reading your resume. This allows for you to be able to tailor it to them. A resume for Investment Banks/Wall Street/Law Offices would be very different from applying to Facebook/startup/laid back environment.

Editing. I like to employ the KISS method I was taught in 8th grade… Keep It Simple Stupid (Is stupid not PC anymore?) No need to state every task you hate doing and can’t stand. Keep it high level and just use your most glowing examples of your most awesome self. Where do you kick ass? Include that. If you’ve been in the work world for many years, you can omit what is not relevant to the industry you are applying to. I personally LOVE when resumes are one page. Unless you have a substantial background and work history- try to stick to one page.

Formatting. When I was in college formatting was my whore. I would cut margins, use huge fonts, abuse character spacing, triple space things- WE CAN SEE YOU!!! Try not to go too crazy. Keep things uniform and easy to read. Also, make sure that it prints out ok. Another formatting tip- DO NOT EMAIL YOUR RESUME IN WORD! Always pdf your document! This will minimize tampering by agencies and companies. Also, it saves your resume from printing out w~EiR’d*.  

Review. Always review your work. Then have friends and family look it over. Remember to spell check it as well. Rest your eyes and review it again the following day.

Below I have included a resume sample. Go to file – Download as – Word document. Save it on your computer and edit away! Have fun! Maybe this is the weekend you finally change your life!

I want to hear from you in the comment section below- what was helpful? Do you disagree with my advice? What other great tips about resumes have you picked up along the way? Do you work in Human Resources? What are your resume pet peeves?

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